(Photo: Michaela Ellul)
The 47th edition of the Malta National Championships came to an end last weekend after an intensive two weekend schedule of games that gave a new style to the most important local competition in badminton. Unlike previous years, this year Badminton Malta scheduled the National Championships to this time of year to be in line with other Badminton Europe member associations who organized this competition during these weeks. Moreover, thanks to the availability of the National School of Sports, these games could run over 2 weekends as opposed to previous years where matches used to be schedules over a month due to lack of availability of facilities. B’Kara BC committee applauded Badminton Malta on the setup and proceedings on these National Championships, and augers that the Association tries to keep improving its competitions, as it has been doing during the recent years.
This year’s National Championships saw a good number of our club members put their best game forward to try and achieve the final spot in all five events. In fact, 17 of our players, ranging from 10 years to 59 years took part. Birkirkara BC wishes to congratulate all its members who took part and gave their all in their matches, and hopes that such behavior encourages others to take part in the near future.
A very big well done to Sarah Gauci Azzopardi, Alisha Gauci Azzopardi and Isaac Ellul who despite their tender age still wanted to challenge themselves in the most important local badminton competition.
In the Men’s Singles category one must congratulate Luigi Grech, Miguel Attard, Michela Gatt, Matthew Galea and Kenneth Vella who despite not managing to go through their first round, they still put their best game forward. Well done goes also to Aldo Polidano and Stephen Ferrante who had to bow out to Nigel DeGaetano and Matthew Abela. The most exciting game however, was undoubtedly that between the latter two. Birkirkara’s DeGaetano offered a true challenge to Abela, despite Abela’s full time training regime. We saw tactics, technique and physicality in play. The match was a hard fought 2 set battle which ended in Abela’s favor 21-17, 21-18.
In the Ladies Singles category, Birkirkara put forward Yanika Polidano, Michaela Ellul, Rebecca Spiteri, Alisha Gauci Azzopardi and Fiorella M Sadowski. Sadowski was in a mission to make this her 7th consecutive Singles title which she finely managed without dropping a set. However, a very big well done must go to Spiteri who fought her way through despite losing in a 2 set clash against Ellul. Ellul then had to overcome the challenge of Polidano. This had to be decided after a three set match where Polidano managed to take the first set 21-19, Ellul managed to make a comeback in the second set winning with a score of 21-14. While in the third set, everything was looking to go in favor of Polidano after she managed to grab a match point at 20-17, however Ellul didn’t give up and succeeded to book her place in the final (her first one in the Singles category) winning the set 22-20 after salvaging 3 match points. Sadowski on the other hand had to win against Francesca Clark and Tiziana Mifsud before facing team mate Ellul in the final in an all Birkirkara affair.
In the Doubles category we saw all our boys pairs on one side of the table thus only one pair had the possibility to reach the final. Kenneth and Aldo offered a good fight to Stephen and Nigel even though the latter managed to overcome their team-mates opposition in 2 straight sets. On the other hand, we had Isaac and Miguel facing Martin and Matthew Galea. The result ended in favor of the latter pair. In the semifinals Galea and Farrugia had the tough opposition of DeGaetano and Ferrante. Finally Ferrante and DeGaetano arrived in the final against the first seeds Stefan Salomone and Samuel Cali. At first, our Birkirkara pair were finding it difficult to gain attack against the powerful Luxol pair. However, they leveled matters and secured the second set to put the final to be decided in the third set. Cali and Salomone tried to start off on a positive, enlarging the point margin to put more pressure on Stephen and Nigel. At mid-way our pair tried to gain composure and managed to decrease the gap that was created in the initial part of the third set. However it was a little bit too late for our players. The reigning champions managed to secure their title for yet another year after beating our Birkirkara duo 21-13, 19-21, 21-15.
In the Ladies Doubles, our club’s reigning champions Yanika Polidano and Fiorella M Sadowski wanted to keep their reign secured. They managed to do this nicely after their wins over the sisters Gauci Azzopardi, mother – daughter Rebecca and Carmen Spiteri and ex-champions Abela DeGiovanni and Cassar in the final. During the final our Birkirkara pair secured the first set 21-10 against the Paola/Luxol pair. In the second set their opponents changed tactics to try and create difficulty to our pair. Eventually, both Yanika and Fiorella understood their opponents game strategy and managed to secure the title in the second set with a score of 21-17. Polidano and Sadowski looked solid all through their matches and their experience in playing together has surely helped in making them the Ladies doubles champions for the third time.
Finally, it was all down to the Mixed Doubles event. This event has certainly offered some electrifying rallies from the first rounds. In fact our Michaela and Aldo failed to secure a place in the quarter finals after a thrilling three setter match against Cali/Abela De Giovanni. Aldo and Michaela had secured the first set with a score of 21-19, then failed to bag the second set after attaining a 4 point advantage losing it 21-18 and eventually lost the third set 21-11. Carmen and Kenneth, Matthew and Rebecca and Nigel and Yanika all managed to get through their initial round after having the better of Paola’s Owen and Sandra, Sam and Francesca and club mates Martin and Michela respectively. In the quarter finals Matthew Galea and Rebecca Spiteri gave a tough ride to Luxol’s experienced pair Robert Salomone and Tiziana Mifsud. Matthew and Rebecca lost the first set 14-21, then stepped up their game and won the second 23-21 but had to eventually given in to their opponent’s experience in Mixed Doubles losing the third 21-13. Stephen and Fiorella overcame the challenge presented by team mates Nigel and Yanika 21-19, 21-10. With only Stephen and Fiorella left to represent the club, our pair had the tough opposition of overcoming Luxol’s Cali/Abela De Giovanni. In the first set everything showed that it was going to be going our pair’s way when they won with the score of 21-5. However, the Luxol pair opened up the game in the second set winning it 21-15 and taking the duel to the third determining set. Finally, our Stephen and Fiorella managed to secure their place in the final, winning the third set 21-15. In the final, they had to face Paola’s strong pair Abela/Cassar. Fiorella and Stephen looked focused from the beginning and managed to secure another title for Birkirkara and Fiorella’s triple crown win in two sets winning 21-17, 21-14. This is Ferrante and Sadowski’s 4th mixed title together and Sadowski’s third Triple Crown success.